DETROIT, (Reuters) -
DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler division said Friday it was recalling about 600,000 Dodge Durango sport utility vehicles and Dodge Dakota pickup trucks due to concerns about their safety.
In related news, Ford Motor Co. said Friday it is recalling nearly half a million Escape and Mazda Tribute SUVs and Volkswagen said 290,000 of its diesel-powered cars are heading back to the shop.
DaimlerChrysler (Research), which has claimed major quality gains in recent years, recalled the vehicles Thursday after U.S. federal safety regulators asked it to pull 2000 to 2003 model year vehicles.
Some of the SUVs and trucks have had problems with an important suspension joint that Chrysler has blamed on corrosion in northern states where salt is used to clear roads of ice.
Chrysler has sought to play down reports that right front wheels on the vehicles can suddenly detach and fly off. But it acknowledged that "in extreme cases" the corrosion problem could trigger "separation of the front suspension."
It said front suspension upper ball joints on the vehicles would be replaced at no cost to their owners.
In addition to the recall, which industry analysts expect to be a costly one for Chrysler, the company said it would offer an extended 10-year or 100,000 mile warranty on the suspension upper ball joints on 400,000 2000-2003 Durangos and Dakotas not affected by the safety action.
Only four-wheel drive versions of the Durango and Dakota are affected by the recall.
Chrysler said there had been no substantiated reports of injuries had been linked to the recall.
Separately, the automaker said it is recalling an additional 98,000 cars and sport utility vehicles because of problems that could cause either engine compartment fires or crashes, federal safety regulators said Friday.
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said vehicles affected by the 98,000 vehicle recall include 71,763 Dodge Durango SUVs from the 2004 model year, which have battery cables that can abrade and potentially trigger a short circuit or underhood fire.
NHTSA said Chrysler was also recalling 26,354 Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus mid-size cars from the 2005 model year, because their right steering knuckles can crack and separate from the control arm, possibly resulting in a crash.
Other automakers hit
Ford said it was recalling about 474,000 Escape and Mazda Tribute sport utility vehicles globally because the accelerator cable may prevent the engine from returning to the idle position, which could increase stopping distance and result in a crash.
The vehicles involved in the recall are from the 2002-2004 model years and have 3.0 liter engines. Ford owns one-third of Mazda Motor Corp.
"The cable liner is pushing out and stopping the accelerator pedal from going back to its original position," Ford spokeswoman Kristen Kinley said.
About 470,000 Escape SUVs are being recalled in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
No injuries or accidents have been linked to the recall, Kinley said.
And Europe's largest carmaker Volkswagen recalled 290,000 diesel-powered cars worldwide due to engine problems that could lead to a fuel leakage.
Volkswagen said it is recalling VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda cars equipped with three- or four-cylinder diesel engines, manufactured between March and August of 2004.
A spokesman for the company said that only dual-valve motors with 1.2-, 1.4- and 1.9-liter displacements were affected.